Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9 roundup: McConnell replies to attack with one of his own, using broad claim that doesn't hold up

Looks like both candidates are now misleading on Medicare:
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell responded quickly to Alison Lundergan Grimes' first attack ad by starting one of his own, quoting media criticism of her ad and making a charge that Obamacare hurts Medicare. "McConnell sought to use the misstep to further his strategic goal of tying Grimes to President Barack Obama, who made similar claims about Medicare in his 2012 re-election bid," reports Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Grimes has said she wants to "fix" Obamacare, not repeal it, but "has refused to say whether she would have voted for or against the federal health care law had she been in the Senate at the time," Youngman notes.
  • The ad says Obamacare "cuts $700 billion from seniors' Medicare," but Youngman says the reductions "do not cut benefits for seniors. Instead, the cuts come from reduced payments to providers over a 10-year period." Actually, the "cuts" are not reductions in spending, but "the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending," wrote Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post. He noted, in writing about the same claim in the Senate race in North Carolina, that the law gave Medicare beneficiaries "new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs."
  • In analyzing the same claim by Mitt Romney in 2012, Politifact gave details about the reductions: "They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. . . . The idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs, but in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare, so the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers. Hospitals, too, will be paid less if they have too many re-admissions, or if they fail to meet other new benchmarks for patient care."
  • FactCheck, also reporting in 2012, said the reductions in anticipate spending will make Medicare more solvent, extending the life of its trust fund by eight years, to 2014. In an analysis of the two attack ads, it faults both of them: "The current Republican proposal is modeled on a plan that would lower seniors' Medicare premiums and total medical costs by 6 percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And past and present GOP "premium support" proposals wouldn't have applied to anyone already getting Medicare.Furthermore, CBO has now effectively retracted the $6,000 figure on which Democrats have always tried to base their claim." It says McConnell's ad is "equally misleading," for the reasons given above.
  • Grimes's campaign called the ad "deceitful" and issued a release saying the retired coal miner in her ad "won't be bullied by Mitch McConnell."
  • McConnell, in a speech on the Senate floor and a release, again invited Obama administration officials to visit the state to see "how their war on coal jobs is harming Kentucky. . . . It’s time for these Washington Democrats to stop pretending that they’re not complicit in the administration’s war on coal jobs, or in the harm that it’s causing to our constituents. Because there’s real pain out there beyond the Democrat echo chamber — out in real world places like Pike County. Washington Democrats need to understand that Kentuckians are more than just some statistic on a bureaucratic balance sheet. These are real Americans who are hurting. And they deserve to have their voices heard. One way to do that, as I’ve suggested, is for the Administration to hold some listening sessions on its new energy regulations in the areas that stand to suffer most from them: in places like Eastern and Western Kentucky."

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